"Mr Figment! What are you doing here?"
Figment hastily activated the emergency boss key mechanism
with his mind and a table of meaningless data appeared on the computer
screen in front of him. The editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and
the CEO of Microsoft entered to find Figment connected by electrodes to
"Mr Editor!" Figment was just as surprised to see his
friend and former colleague. "IÖ I work here now Ė for Mr Gates." He nodded
politely to his employer.
"Thatís right," the latter confirmed. "Mr Figment is
working on our most promising venture. Heís doing a wonderful job." Figment
"And heís doing an invaluable service to the entire technological
community," Gates added.
"Well I must say Iím rather taken aback," the editor
admitted. "When I was invited to visit Mr Gates to discuss the Oxford University
Press Website, I never dreamed of finding you employed here. I always thought
that you viewed computers in a negative light, believing that their use
stifled the imaginative process."
"Mr Editor," Figment replied. "Computers are merely a
tool, as benign as a pen. Itís how they are utilized that decides how they
affect the imagination."
"And thisÖ this hypertext? You donít find it overwhelming
or destructive to the imagination?"
"Relax, Mr Editor," Figment advised. "Hypertext is simply
a nonlinear way of viewing information. Itís the ultimate collaboration
between the author, the reader and the work, Reading and writing become
a dynamic process, requiring an unprecedented investment of imagination."
"What prompted your change of heart, Mr Figment?"
"Iím doing research for Mr Gates," Figment explained.
"Heís developing a revolutionary form of hypertext. You see, the latest
advancement allows my thoughts to control my pathway through the text.
Itís the ultimate way for me to channel my imagination." "You mean you
donít need a mouse or a keyboard?" the editor asked incredulously. Gates
laughed. "The mouse and the keyboard will soon be obsolete."
"Stone age tools really," Figment added.
"Why donít we demonstrate some of our recent breakthroughs,
Mr Figment?" Gates suggested.
Figment rubbed his hands together gleefully and saluted
"Iíve never seen the little chap so enthusiastic before,"
the editor remarked to Gates, but the Microsoft chief was already assisting
Figment in fastening the electrodes to his head. Various windows and screens
started to flash by on the monitor. The editor found this phenomenon, in
the absence of a mouse and keyboard rather disconcerting.
"Figment is now traveling through hyperspace at an unprecedented
rate," Gates explained.
"Hmm," the editor murmured. "Yes, it is remarkable."
"Itís only possible because the system is entirely reliant
on his cognitive processes. Mr Figment need only fixate his mind on a particular
textual destination and within nanoseconds he is there!"
"Remarkable!" the editor enthused, as Figment entered
Xanadu, the global literary system. "Itís a whole docuverse!"
He was transfixed as the Oxford University Press archives
flashed past. Figment decelerated his thoughts as the Fourth Wall Fiasco
by Ilanit Tof appeared. The Editor was so engrossed in the histiographic
meta-fiction that it was some time before he noticed Figment had turned
a deathly shade of pale and had started to squirm and writhe in his chair.
"Whatís happening?" the Editor demanded of Gates, when
he became aware of Figmentís discomfort.
Gates clenched his jaw and swore under his breath. "Why?"
he seethed, "Why is this happening again?"
"What is? Whatís happening again?" the editor persisted.
"We always get to a certain stage and then we lose them.
I donít know what toÖ"
At that moment, a gust of air was emitted from the disk
drive, nearly knocking the trio sideways. The gust extended a tendril,
enveloping Figment. The editor lunged for him, but the gust had a firm
hold and sucked Figment into the disk drive with it.
"Where is he, Bill? What happened to Mr Figment?" the
editor demanded, taking hold of Gatesí lapels.
click to continue...
Copyright © 1996 Ilanit
Tof, All Rights Reserved.
Illustrations by Rhonda Willson, © 1996.